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The Key to a Longer Life: Your Telomeres?

The Key to a Longer Life: Your Telomeres?

A miracle cream? Baths of olive oil? Surgery? No, the secret to a longer life is none of these things. It is more simple, more integral. To live longer, it appears you need to have longer telomeres.

There’s really not much complexity to it. To lengthen your telomeres, it seems that all it takes is a healthy lifestyle: moderate exercise, low stress, and a natural diet devoid of overly processed foods and instead filled with healthy fats, proteins, and plenty of produce. Kind of a no-brainer, I know. Healthy lifestyle equals less disease, which equals longer life. But the role telomeres play in this process is potentially key.

For those who are a little rusty on cellular biology, telomeres are essentially chromosome covers; they keep our genetic material from unraveling and becoming damaged. Since they protect the master plan at the heart of each and every one of our cells, telomeres are an extremely important indicator of overall health and expected lifespan.

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Generally, as we age, our telomeres grow shorter and shorter. It is hotly debated whether the shortening of telomeres are at the root cause of aging and degeneration, or if aging and diminishing health is what leads to shorter telomeres. Regardless, as age increases, telomere length appears to shorten. Curiously, when centenarians were compared to 85 year-olds in a study, the centenarians were found to actually have longer telomeres. But they are older, so shouldn’t their telomeres be shorter? Apparently, since centenarians have lived far beyond the average human lifespan, their unusual telomere length appears to be associated with longevity and healthiness.

These incredible results have be applied to people of all ages. In a recent study, a small group of men adopted a this generally healthy lifestyle — meditation, moderate exercise, yoga, and a low-fat, low-inflammation diet– while the other group changed nothing. Over the course of a 5 year period, the health-minded men actually had a 10 percent increase in telomere length and a far reduced risk of disease, whereas the normal group suffered 3 percent shortening without any benefits. But, luckily for the less health-minded group, it appears as though conscious lifestyle changes can actually reverse any shortening of the telomeres, providing hope that it is never too late for anyone to get healthy.

However, the question remains, do your telomeres lengthen because you’re healthy, or are you healthy and disease-free because you have long telomeres? While the scientists go argue about that one, you can find me and my telomeres doing some yoga and snacking on kale.

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Read more: Aging, Diet & Nutrition, Fitness, Food, General Health, Health, Healthy Aging, Mental Wellness, Stress, Yoga, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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Jordyn Cormier

Jordyn is a choreographer, freelance writer, and an avid outdoors woman. Having received her B.F.A. in Contemporary Dance from the Boston Conservatory, she is passionate about maintaining a healthy body, mind, and soul through food and fitness. A lover of adventure, Jordyn can often be found hiking, canoeing, mountain biking, and making herself at home in the backcountry! Check out what else Jordyn has been up to at jordyncormier.com.

121 comments

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3:57PM PDT on Oct 30, 2013

TY

10:03PM PDT on Oct 16, 2013

thanks

7:34PM PDT on Oct 12, 2013

So tell us something we didn't already know. Thanks for posting anyway.

10:11AM PDT on Oct 10, 2013

I first read about telemeres sometime in the 80's too as Mandy K mentions and I had the impression that they had just been discovered and biologists were just beginning to find out their purpose and how they worked so it's good to have this info come foreward again, hopefully with much greater detail. Unlike many here, I believe that good health is normal and need not be 'worked at'.Deterioration makes no sense in the evolutionary sceam of things since we need our bodies to be working perfectly right up to the minute we leave them. But since we have free will, we can mess up lots of things with toxic crap that was never ment to be spewed across the planet. I've got so many things I still want to do and projects to complete that I'll need to live till I'm 130 in good health to get to them all. So I focus on quality, efficiency, ease, healthful and comfortable. Love the Natural world. It is what sustains us.So it may be that long telomeres came first to protect our natural level of needed health.

11:00PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Thanks Jordyn for sharing.

9:59PM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Chicken egg question so we may as well keep ourselves healthy until the doctors and scientists figure out the answer. Very interesting and Thank you.

3:41AM PDT on Oct 4, 2013

Thanks for sharing!

2:18PM PDT on Oct 2, 2013

Turn off the television...nothing said about turning off your computers, tablets, smart phones, and all other electronic devices for a certain period each day. Take a deep breath all you addicts - it's only for a few hours so you can admire the sunset, the full moon, the antics of your pets and children, anything but look at an electronic screen for hours. Trust me, you will survive...maybe even find you feel better once you move out of that chair/seat for a bit. Ever think about walking around your house or apartment building - outside??

10:20AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

Healthy food, yoga & meditation, outdoor walking, lots & LOTS of laughter -- these are my rules for my life. 69 & going strong without any medications, etc! :)

1:52AM PDT on Sep 30, 2013

Thank you :)

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Disclaimer: The views expressed above are solely those of the author and may not reflect those of
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